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Interfaith event at mosque in Brookfield draws large crowd for dialogue on prayer
Nearly 140 people heard representatives of 12 denominations and faiths give mini-presentations on the purpose of prayer and then broke into small groups for animated dialoguing on Sunday afternoon, May 3, at the newly opened mosque in Brookfield.
The free event included Middle Eastern food and tours of the mosque. It was hosted by the ISM Brookfield Mosque, organized by the Interfaith Conference's Committee for Interfaith Understanding and co-sponsored by the Brookfield Elm Grove Interfaith Network (BEGIN).
The theme was, "Interfaith Experience: Why do we pray? An exploration of the purpose and benefits of prayer."
This was a follow-up to a similar "Interfaith Experience" event the Interfaith Conference and BEGIN co-sponsored on Jan. 25th with the theme of "How do our faiths inspire us to treat the stranger?" at the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield. A third event is being planned for this fall.
Representatives of the following denominations and faiths gave four-minute presentations on prayer at the May 3rd event:
Baha’i – Michael Paik, Lake Country Baha’i community, Waukesha County
Buddhism – Tonen O’Connor, Resident Priest Emerita, Milwaukee Zen Center
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Bishop Blake Fuhriman, Milwaukee
Wisconsin North Stake
Hinduism – Dr. Anoop K. Dhingra, Hindu Temple of Wisconsin, Pewaukee
Islam – Ahmed Quereshi, President of Islamic Society of Milwaukee
Islamic Sufism – Armita Saleki, M.T.O. School of Islamic Sufism, Racine County
Judaism – Rabbi Ronald Shapiro, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Shalom, Fox Point
Protestant Christianity – Rev. Kathleen Rinear, Convener of Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network (BEGIN) and senior pastor of Brookfield Congregational Church/United Church of Christ
Roman Catholic Christianity – Prof. Daniel Di Domizio, Religious Studies faculty, Cardinal Stritch University
Sikhism – Dr. Shubhi Sehgal, Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin, Brookfield
Unitarian Universalism – Rev. Suzelle Lynch, minister, Unitarian Universalist Church West, Brookfield
Zoroastrianism – Toranj Marphetia, Zoroastrian resident of Brookfield and a moderator for Interfaith Conference Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogues
People of Faith United for Justice
2015 Advocacy Day draws 700-plus people
About 700 people participated in the biennial People of Faith United for Justice advocacy day in Madison on April 29 to learn, discuss, pray and advocate together for social justice issues of importance to all the people of Wisconsin.
It was organized by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, WISDOM, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee and six other organizations.
The people shared their values, priorities and concerns as the Legislature was working on the next two-year state budget, striving to ensure that their commitment to compassion and justice is reflected in that budget. Their focus was on:
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Safety Net Issues (drug testing, Medicaid expansion, and long term care–IRIS)
- Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants
- Public Transit Issues, including preserving/expanding funding and keeping transit funding in the state transportation budget
Presentations and break-out sessions were held at Bethel Lutheran Church and First United Methodist Church in Madison near the State Capitol. After lunch, participants walked en masse around the Capitol and then visited the offices of their respective Senators and Assembly representatives.
The keynote speakers were:
** Hannah Rosenthal, CEO/President of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism for the U.S. State Department
** The Rev. Everett Mitchell, community relations director for UW-Madison and pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison, who holds master's degrees in Christian ethics and social ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Other co-organizers of the event included: Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Madison, Wisconsin Jewish Conference.
More than 250 people of many faiths
have vibrant small-group dialogues
at 2014 Annual Luncheon
The more than 250 people of many faiths, ethnicities and cultures who came to the Italian Community Center for the Interfaith Conference's 44th annual luncheon on December 4 were much more than "attendees." They were fully engaged "participants" as they shared personal stories of their lived experiences of faith or philosophy at each table.
This was a remarkable luncheon, one that reached beyond staid, conventional program models.
Instead of having a keynote speaker, we had people get a taste of our highly successful Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue Program by having a half hour of moderated discussions at each table using an appreciative listening process that evokes deep sharing.
Instead of having faith groups and organizations purchase tables and sit with their own people, we dispersed people throughout the ballroom to achieve diversity at every table. People truly had personal, interfaith experiences that bridged differences and fostered understanding and friendship.
Dr. Rob Shelledy, Interfaith Conference Cabinet chair and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's Social Justice Ministry Coordinator, was the emcee. Tonen O'Connor, resident priest emerita of the Milwaukee Zen Center, opened the luncheon with this reflection:
"I'm most appreciative of this opportunity to offer a reflection as the invocation before today's luncheon, and of course the first thing we should share is our gratitude for the food we are about to eat, and our thanks to all those who had a hand in its journey to our table. Food has deep spiritual meaning within all faith traditions, and it is in this spirit that we offer our thanks.
"We gather together today as people of faith with trust that the deep divisions in our society can be healed. Within Buddhism there is an understanding that self and other are in truth, one being, inextricably interrelated, and that all beings are equal participants in this universe. This is what I ask you to consider today. Let us pledge to eliminate those deeply divisive words, "us" and "them" and replace them with "we," and thus take a small step forward toward an end to racial disparity, racial distrust, religious conflict, riots, poverty and the death of children.
"May the word "we" rise in our hearts so that we will look upon others and see ourselves. Recently in Istanbul, Pope Francis prayed that we may "overcome misunderstandings, divisions and disagreements and be a credible sign of unity and peace." The important word here is "credible." Lip service is not enough.
Please join me in a moment of silence within which we consecrate this meal to our determination to step past divisions and bring into being a credible "we.".........................................................................Thank you.
We also gave awards to two exceptional individuals and two highly commedable organizations.
2014 AWARD RECIPIENTS
Frank Zeidler Award
Rabbi Ronald Shapiro
For his leadership in social justice and interfaith relations, from his time as a rabbinical student and summer urban intern working with Fr. James Groppi’s National Welfare Rights Organization to his service as senior rabbi of Congregation Shalom over the past 36 years.
Rev. Herbert Huebschmann Urban Ministry Award
For providing natural healing therapies that transform the body, mind and spirit of people who could not otherwise afford these services, while forming community and breaking down barriers of social isolation and ethnic, racial and cultural separation.
Mark Rohlfing Memorial Award
For her outstanding service as a teacher who advocates for and exemplifies commitment to providing special education students in the Milwaukee Public Schools with an education that will afford a future for them within a society that does not always accept their challenges.
Youth/Young Adult Leadership Award
Marquette University Campus Ministry’s “Midnight Run”
For this student-led initiative’s 26 years of service to the hungry and homeless in Milwaukee through advocacy, awareness building and weekly volunteering by more than 150 students
at 12 meal programs and shelters throughout the area.